UN human rights experts* have called on the United States to urgently address the situation of hundreds of thousands of migrants who arrived in the country as children and now face possible expulsion.
Their call comes ahead of the 5 March deadline for the expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme.
The programme grants work permits and renewable two-year deferments from deportation to qualifying migrants who arrived as children under 16, are pursuing or have completed a high school education or military service, and have not committed a serious crime.
“We are increasingly concerned about the impact that ending the DACA programme could have on the young people who benefit from it,” said the experts in a joint statement.
“If a solution is not reached by the beginning of March, DACA beneficiaries will be stripped of their legal status and their protection from deportation without procedural safeguards.”
The experts added that an abrupt end to the DACA programme will disrupt the lives of these migrants and cause profound grief and irreparable harm by tearing their families apart and making them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse if deported to countries where they barely have any ties.
The experts said the U.S. should act now to ensure the human rights of the estimated 800,000 people who have benefited from the programme, rather than imperil them.
DACA beneficiaries are often referred to as Dreamers – more than three quarters of them arrived from Mexico while the rest are mainly from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Many DACA beneficiaries fear for their lives if they are forced to return to their countries of origin. “Our concerns are not only about what could happen to them, but also for the families that they would leave in the U.S.,” the experts added.
*The UN experts: Mr. Felipe González Morales, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants; Ms. Elina Steinerte, Vice-Chair on Communications of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Ms. Alda Facio, Chair of the UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice; and Ms. E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism.
Photo courtesy: UN Human Rights
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